Anyone suffering forgetfulness/memory problems?

Is there anyone else out there who is suffering from memory/concentration problems after chemo is finished? I was diagnosed April 2010 with stage 4 oc and finished chemo Sept 2010.

I have been in remission since and feeling pretty good. I wend back to work part time and manage to keep upbeat most of the time but one thing has started to worry me lately. I am making silly mistakes and can't seem to remember things. I have worked in my current job for 9 years and was extremely good at my job and at first I put these problems down to the trauma of oc and the fact that I had been off work for quite a while and there had been several changes in our office due to yet another takeover. However, I should be up to speed by now and it's making me feel really stupid. Sometimes I feel I am in a fog and concentration is really hard. My forgetfulness is cronic! I have tried mentioning this to my colleagues but they jokingly put it down to my age. I'm 61. What little confidence I gained after 2010 is being slowly eroded. I have read that this can sometimes go on for a long time after treatement. Any words of wisdom please? Chris x x

8 Replies

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  • Hi Chris,

    I am sure it is nothing more than you have suggested - post chemo trauma, but please do go to your GP and check it out. There is an ad campaign at the moment on TV, where if it is anything more than that, getting quick help can make a lot of difference. Yes, I know....we've been here before!

    Love Lizzie

    X

  • Hi Chris

    I cant offer any words of wisdom but I have read that apparently 'chemo brain' is a known side-effect and what you have described is exactly that I should think. I hope your colleagues will be supportive while you go through this phase. I tried going back to work after my first round of treatment seven years ago and felt like a fish out of water after being absent for several months. So I admire you for sticking with it.

    Love Patsy x

  • Dear Chris,

    I am 56 now (was 53 when I finished chemo). I have to be honest - my memory, which was one of my main assets, gets worse and worse. I used to work with an active caseload of about 50 individuals and families, and never needed to keep notes for myself. Now I work with half a dozen at most, and have to look things up again and again. I now work for myself as previously I was running a team of six too!

    I had hoped that it was related to the menopause into which I was thrown by the op - that and trauma reaction - but I tend now to the belief that it is longer term and chemo has not helped at all. I think the best thing is to keep your mind active, and try not to undermine yourself by focussing on the things you forget, and to get into the habit of managing it with lists, plans, etc.

    It also has to be remembered (!) that ov.ca. isn't a shock that you get over, as the checks and worries about recurrence, etc keep re-traumatising us. That is also a big part of the jigsaw.

    Hope you (and I) get on top of it soon,

    Isadora.

  • Chris, I finished chemo in April of 2011 and I am suffering from memory loss and lack of concentration. Everybody puts it down to me having two small children (now aged 3.5 years and 2 years) and also menopause. While I did suffer this to some degree after having the two children, it was nothing like now (I am also on HRT). I run a private teaching practice in classical singing, and I never used to forget times when students were due to arrive - I was very organised. And now I have students turning up at the door who I have not put in the diary. I forget what songs they are learning all the time. I forget which exams students are preparing for. I am now unable to teach theory of music so well as I cannot dredge up the words to explain. I also used to work as an editor and writer, and I am beginning to think I need to return to this, too, as our finances are still not recovered from the last year or so. However, I am afraid to return to this as, even when I am careful with the emails I write, I see inaccuracies, grammatical errors, inelegant phrasing. I am not sure I would remember what I should be doing! I'm beginning to wonder if I will turn into someone who is most comfortable only cooking and watching children's programmes 24 hours a day! I empathise. It worries me, too, that I will not be employable again. I am only 41. Perhaps there is a supplement that will help the brain cells and neural pathways? I guess we can only try to keep challenging ourselves while we redevelop the neural pathways that were damaged while on chemo. Trouble is, my brain feels too tired to pursue this idea whenever I try. I guess it will get easier, the more I attempt this. Let me know if you find a solution! Sara xx

  • Hi,

    Lots of people suffer from 'chemo memory'. Mine is not too good, but I find with writing things down as and when, and keeping a diary I manage. I have packed up working as I couldn't keep on top of my clients and the wages/bookkeeping I was doing for them.. I try and do puzzles, quizzes etc to keep what is left activie, but I'm sorry to say, that things like family events, parties and holidays just seem to fade away... what a waste of money!!

    Some think it is just an excuse, but looking at all the people that have problems it must be a side effect.

    Roll on a cure I say.

    Love

    Viv

  • Hi

    I'm another chemo brain sufferer1 Lkie Grey badger my brain has been subjected to a fair few chemos. I cnat find the right words at times so frustrating and embarassing. Chemo can irriiaie all parts of the body for a long time after treatment, eventually they do improve.

    take care

    love Sue x

  • Hi Chris,

    I could write a book and fill it about all the daft things I have either said or done over the years, onlky the other day I put the tea bags in the kettle and the sugar in the tea pot.

    I wanted to tell you that my memory has been affected for years, long before the cancer and chemotherapy. I have suffered from a chronic condition of profound fatigue.

    I am sharing you girls with this BECAUSE - after any tupe of trauma and emotional stress, not to mention the pysical side affects after surgery and treament. The memory or chemo brain as we sometimes refere to it as, is basically a normal responce.

    Our body needs so much energy to heal - and it can`t do that without shutting down some parts that are not so important to us.

    Think of it this way. We are like a car, our energy is like the fule in that car. We only have so many miles before we need to fill the petrol tank again. For us because our body needs so much energy to repair the aftermath of what we have been through or still going through, it leaves little reserves for things such as memory.

    Our body will take just enough energy for this to get by, but a great deal of the time our brain will reserve that energy by shutting down, and basically switching off to things we either have little interest in or isn`t too important to us.

    Have you noticed how its much worse when we are put under stress? we can no longer multi task and our brain finds it difficult to focuss on more than one thing at once.

    I find it impossible to talk to people or listen when there is back ground noise, either the radio, TV or another conversation going on in the same room.

    This is also an aging thing too. When we age we don`t have as much fule in our tank and again certain things need to take second place to basically keep us alive. The heart, lungs and other important organs are needed more than your memory. So, part of our thinking and memory etc shuts down to protect us.

    I hope I have explained this enough for you to understand.

    Ask yourself if you are getting enough rest? Your body/brain needs a lot more sleep now, maybe you need more to improve the memory. I need at least 12 hours a night and sometimes day naps as well to keep my memory and pysical body going. I have suffered with this since my early 30`s. I am no wosre since the cancer or no worse at the age of 53. In many ways I am better because I follow the self help tecniques of pacing myself and resting plenty.

    Ever heard the saying baby brain? Young mums suffer from this when they don`t get enough rest after the baby is born.

    I hope this helps - all the best from Tina xxx

  • Thank you all for your replies. Nice to know I'm not going mad. My 89 year old Mum is better at remembering things that me!! She does do crossword puzzles so maybe that's the answer.

    Tina, you have explained this so well, it makes sense. It does happen when I try to multitask, so I will take things a bit more slowly and try and do one things one at a time at work................people will just have to wait won't they? I am much better at home when I don't have pressure but I really don't want to give up my job at the moment. It's part of my return to normality.

    Sarah, I will let you know if I find the answer, however, with 2 young children and working as well you must find it really hard.

    Love and hugs to you all.

    Chris x x

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